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Can Prosecutors Put the Same Gun in the Hands of More Than One Shooter?

John Thompson vs. American Justice

The Power of Prosecutors

Criminal (In)justice

In the US, there have been almost two thousand wrongful convictions Yet in so many cases, prosecutors, police, judges and even defense attorneys simply refuse to acknowledge these catastrophic mistakes. Our guest – a former prosecutor – explains why we blind ourselves to these injustices. Read more and listen to the podcast here

Former FBI Investigator says convicted killer Jens Soering should be pardoned

Some law enforcement officers stepping up for innocence and pointing to tunnel vision as leading to a wrongful conviction

 

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His Clients Weren’t Complaining. But the Judge Said This Lawyer Worked Too Hard.

Letter: Probation is prison, minus the metal bars

New Trial Upheld for Adnan Syed of ‘Serial’

An appeals panel on Thursday vacated the conviction of Adnan Syed, whose case was chronicled in the first season of the hit podcast “Serial,” and ruled that he should be granted a new trial on all charges.

Mr. Syed was convicted in 2000 of the first-degree murder and kidnapping of his former girlfriend, Hae Min Lee.

In the ruling, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals said he had received ineffective legal counsel at his trial because his original lawyer had failed to call a witness whose testimony, if believed, “would have made it impossible for Syed to have murdered Hae.”

“Accordingly, Syed’s murder conviction must be vacated, and because Syed’s convictions for kidnapping, robbery, and false imprisonment are predicated on his commission of Hae’s murder, these convictions must be vacated as well,” the panel wrote. “The instant case will be remanded for a new trial on all charges against Syed.”

Mr. Syed’s new lawyer, Justin Brown, said both he and Mr. Syed were “thrilled” with the panel’s decision.

At a news conference, he said Mr. Syed “asked me to convey his deep gratitude and thanks from the bottom of his heart to all those who have supported him and believed in him.”

The accounts by the new witness, and other evidence seeming to cast doubt on the conviction, were the focus of “Serial,” which was a wildly successful podcast in 2014 and popularized the format for a general audience.

The 12-episode series featured Sarah Koenig, a former producer with the weekly public radio program “This American Life,” telling the story of the killing, investigation and trial in a conversational narrative with interviews. It was downloaded more than 175 million times and won a Peabody Award.

Mr. Syed’s lawyer, Mr. Brown, said he had been unable to locate the witness, Asia McClain, until the “Serial” team began investigating Mr. Syed’s story. He said the podcast had been “enormously helpful” in pursuing justice for his client continue reading here

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Prosecutorial Misconduct Reaches Epidemic Proportions

Innocence Project Lawyers Support Texas Prosecutor

50 Years Later, Remembering King, and the Battles That Outlived Him

Martin Luther King Jr. remains frozen in time for many Americans. Seared into our consciousness is the man who battled Southern segregation.

We see him standing before hundreds of thousands of followers in the nation’s capital in 1963, proclaiming his dream for racial harmony. We see him marching, arms locked with fellow protesters, through the battleground of Alabama in 1965.

But on the 50th anniversary of his death, it is worth noting how his message and his priorities had evolved by the time he was shot on that balcony at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis in 1968. Dr. King was confronting many challenges that remain with us today.

He was battling racism in the North then, not just in the South. He was pushing the government to address poverty, income inequality, structural racism and segregation in cities like Boston and Chicago. He was also calling for an end to a war that was draining the national treasury of funds needed to finance a progressive domestic agenda.

This may not be the Dr. King that many remember. Yet, his words resonate powerfully – and, perhaps, uncomfortably – today in a country that remains deeply divided on issues of race and class.

“All the issues that he raised toward the end of his life are as contemporary now as they were then,” said Taylor Branch, the Pulitzer-Prize winning historian who has written several books about Dr. King.

It is no surprise that Americans remember the man who focused on demolishing the legal underpinnings of Jim Crow.

Holding on to the memory of the earlier Dr. King allows us to focus on our nation’s progress, not on the deeply entrenched problems that remain.

Continue reading here

Exonerated After 45 Years in Prison

He was 27 when he went in. Now he’s 72.

This sets a record for the longest wrongful imprisonment in the US.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/30/us/detroit-man-wrongfully-excused-of-murder-released-trnd/index.html

Credit Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley for Ru-El Sailor exoneration

CINCINNATI — Today, the only thing that stops Ru-El Sailor from walking free after serving 15 hard years in prison for a murder that he didn’t commit is the fate of a motion to vacate his conviction. That motion was filed by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley.

If a Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court judge approves O’Malley’s motion, Sailor will join his family, friends, and community in a celebration of justice that we don’t often see in today’s news.

He also will be greeted by Evin King, whom O’Malley exonerated last year. Evin spent nearly 23 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, but as a free man will welcome Sailor, who was wrongly convicted in the 2002 murder of a Cleveland man, to the family of Ohio’s exonerees.

Sailor is represented by two outstanding advocates, Cleveland attorney Kim Corral and Jennifer Bergeron of the Ohio Innocence Project. Corral and Bergeron worked tirelessly on Sailor’s case.

That work eventually brought them to O’Malley’s Conviction Integrity Unit, led by another committed attorney, Russell Tye.

If the motion to vacate Sailor’s conviction is granted, O’Malley and his Conviction Integrity Unit deserve much credit for his freedom.

It might seem to those unfamiliar with how wrongful conviction cases work that once evidence surfaces of the innocence of someone wrongfully imprisoned, prosecutors just agree to freedom, like we see on television shows or in movies. But unfortunately, too often that is not the case.

For those of us who do innocence work, we see case after case where prosecutors presented with evidence of a wrongful conviction resist that evidence. They dig in and refuse to admit a mistake no matter how great the showing of innocence. This is because prosecutors are human.

Read the full article here

Prosecutor Issues Fake Subpoenas

This absolutely turns my stomach. This insanity has to stop.

See the story from HuffPost here.

 

Wrongfully Convicted Man Gets His Old Job Back with the White Sox After 23 Years in Prison

 

Would that ALL exonerated people were able to re-insert themselves back into society this easily.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/26/us/white-sox-hire-wrongly-convicted-groundskeeper-trnd/index.html

 

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Hundreds marched in Downtown Memphis demanding criminal justice reform

We’re off! #INConf2018 The largest gathering of wrongly convicted people marching in honor of #MLK50 as we strive to fix our broken criminal justice system.

 

 

When the innocent go to prison, how many guilty go free?

Jennifer Thompson has told her harrowing tale many times. In 1984, a man broke into her apartment and sexually assaulted her at knifepoint. She picked Ronald Cotton out of a police lineup, and he was sent to prison. But a decade later he was proven innocent and released. The two met and eventually co-authored a book, “Picking Cotton.” They toured the country, advocating for laws that might prevent such tragedies. The real perpetrator, Bobby Poole, was identified through DNA, and died in prison in 1998.

Jennifer Thompson has spoken about how wrongful convictions contribute to crime by allowing the guilty to go free.

But here’s the lesser-known epilogue: After the book was released, Thompson was contacted by a woman named LuAnn Mullis. Mullis had also been sexually assaulted by Bobby Poole, months after Cotton was wrongfully arrested. In fact, Poole had been accused of more than 20 crimes after the police arrested the wrong man. “If they had done it right then, what happened to me would not have occurred,” Mullis told Thompson.

Thompson spoke in her public appearances about how wrongful convictions contribute to crime by allowing the guilty to go free. But there were no numbers.

It just so happened that Thompson married a political scientist named Frank Baumgartner, who for years has studied data on wrongful convictions. Together, they began discussing how to show the public that preventing wrongful convictions is not just a way of stopping individual injustices: it’s a way of fighting crime continue reading here

 

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‘Testilying’ by Police: A Stubborn Problem

Why the Prevalence of Lying by Police is a Problem for the Innocent

Texas Cop Who Killed A Black Man In Front Of His Children Indicted For Lying             (The cop still has his job.)

 

Could Sentencing ‘Discounts’ Replace Plea Bargaining?

A fairer trial system requires both transparency and a shift of power away from prosecutors “into the hands of (impartial) sentencing judges,” argue the authors of a forthcoming article in Missouri Law Review.

It isn’t an exaggeration to say the right to a fair trial in the U.S. is close to a myth, when the fate of more than 90 percent of criminal cases is determined by unrecorded conversations that take place in a courthouse hallway, according to the article, entitled Plea Bargaining: From Patent Unfairness to Transparent Justice.

The authors propose replacing the current U.S. system with a model similar to one used in Australia, where judges have a high degree of authority over sentencing, and where the high court has ruled that prosecutors cannot even make a submission regarding an appropriate sentence.

Read more here

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Until Proven Innocent: Life after prison for 3 men now free after wrongful conviction

He lost 11 years after a wrongful conviction. Who can blame Kerry Porter for being angry?

Philadelphia’s New Top Prosecutor Is Rolling Out Wild, Unprecedented Criminal Justice Reforms

Philadelphia’s newly minted district attorney, Larry Krasner, was meeting constituents in a packed church in West Philadelphia earlier this month to discuss his plans for the job. The meeting was unique in that it quickly revealed to community members what local civic leaders and officials have already learned about Krasner: He is making good on his promise to revolutionize the job of district attorney and, in the process, offering an extraordinary experiment in criminal justice reform at the municipal level that could serve as a national model.

In the church, queries and complaints from constituents that might have made his predecessors cringe were softballs for Krasner: a loved one has been wrongfully incarcerated? Send the case to the revamped Conviction Review Unit, a sort of in-house innocence project. How can lying officers be kept off the stand? He has staff working to verify and expand a formerly secret “do not call” list of 29 suspect officers. Late in the meeting, one elderly woman asked a question that cuts to the core of concerns for those who doubt Krasner’s reforms: What would he do about the drug dealers and users on her street that make her feel unsafe? He didn’t miss a beat: “The past solution was to lock [corner drug dealers] all up and that didn’t work. We have to go after root cause,” he says. This came after an extended riff promising “to go after doctors, and pharmaceutical corporations” for their role in the nation’s opioid crisis. Notably, his office had already initiated legal proceedings against some of those pharmaceutical companies.

Back on the campaign trail last year, Krasner, a former civil rights and criminal defense attorney who had been best known for suing police officers, offered a stump speech that condemned the criminal justice system for being racist and for criminalizing poverty and addiction. He was an unusual candidate to be the city’s top law enforcer. Voters swept him into office. Now, two months into his term, DA Krasner is virtually undistinguishable from candidate Krasner.

Read about the reforms Krasner is making here

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More exonerations are driven by police and prosecutor misconduct

Let’s Put an End to Prosecutorial Immunity

Swindler Exploits the ‘Hope of Inmates,’ Prosecutor Says

 

National Registry of Exonerations Releases Record-Filled Annual Report for 2017

The National Registry of Exoneration has reported 139 exonerations — cases in which convictions were officially vacated as a result of new evidence of innocence — in 2017. A significant finding in the Annual Report (here) is that in 84 of these cases, misconduct by police, prosecutors, or other government officials factored in the wrongful conviction, an all-time record for official misconduct as a contributor to wrongful convictions later vacated through exoneration. But there was also encouraging evidence of increasing activism in achieving exonerations by prosecutorial offices through the work of Conviction Integrity Units (CIUs).

The annual report provides a detailed analysis of exonerations in 2017. Perjury or false accusation factored in a record 87 cases, 62 percent. Another record 29 or 20 percent of exonerations involved a false confession. And mistaken eyewitness identification impacted a record 37 cases, 26 percent.

Fifty-one defendants were exonerated of homicide, twenty-nine of sex crimes, eighteen of other violent crimes, forty-one of non-violent crimes such as fraud, Continue reading

John Grisham: Eight reasons for America’s shameful number of wrongful convictions

It is too easy to convict an innocent person. The rate of wrongful convictions in the United States is estimated to be somewhere between 2% to 10%. That may sound low, but when applied to a prison population of 2.3 million, the numbers become staggering. Can there really be 46,000 to 230,000 innocent people locked away? Those of us who are involved in exoneration work firmly believe so.

Millions of defendants are processed through our courts each year. It’s nearly impossible to determine how many of them are actually innocent once they’ve been convicted. There are few resources for examining the cases and backgrounds of those claiming to be wrongfully convicted.

Once an innocent person is convicted, it is next to impossible to get them out of prison.

Over the past 25 years, the Innocence Project, where I serve on the board of directors, has secured through DNA testing the release of 349 innocent men and women, 20 of whom had been sent to death row. All told, there have been more than 2,000 exonerations, including 200 from death row, in the U.S. during that same period. But we’ve only scratched the surface.

John Grisham continues by discussing the 8 major reasons for wrongful convictions. Read his 8 reasons here.